General Motors’ crosstown rival, Ford Motor Company, just announced that it was updating its Ford Co-Pilot 360 technology suite with a new feature dubbed Ford Active Drive Assist with Hands-Free Mode. The new feature enables drivers in the U.S. and Canada to remove their hands from the steering wheel on select highways, and arrives as a competitor to the GM Super Cruise system.
Like GM Super Cruise, the new Ford system is not considered a fully autonomous driving solution. Although drivers can remove their hands from the steering wheel, they are still required to pay attention to the road, and if prompted, resume control over the vehicle.
Rather, the Ford system is designed to make long-distance driving easier and more comfortable, covering 100,000 miles of pre-mapped, divided highways in all 50 U.S. states, and Canada as well.
Ford Active Drive Assist with Hands-Free Mode uses an infrared driver-facing camera to track the driver’s eye gaze and head position, thus ensuring the driver is paying attention to the road. If the driver is not paying attention, the system will notify him or her via the instrument cluster, potentially slowing the vehicle until the driver is ready to refocus.
Ford Active Drive Assist with Hands-Free Mode will be offered on select 2021 model year vehicles, the first of which is the new Mustang Mach-E all-electric crossover. The feature will be available across the Mach-E lineup via a package, then activated in Q3 of 2021, roughly nine months after the first units of the Mach-E are delivered.
Compared to GM Super Cruise, the new Ford system is available to use on fewer roadways, with just 100,000 miles covered compared to the more than 200,000 miles covered by the GM system. The GM system recently received a 70,000-mile update that expanded the system’s availability. The GM system also covers divided highways in the U.S. and Canada.
What’s more, GM Super Cruise is available right now, whereas the Ford system will not launch until Q3 of 2021. Super Cruise first debuted with the Cadillac CT6, then expanded to the 2020 Cadillac CT4 and 2020 Cadillac CT5. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade will also offer the feature, while the Cadillac XT4, XT5, and XT6 are set to receive it before 2023. The system is set to expand beyond the Cadillac brand by 2021.
Finally, the Ford system provides notifications for the driver via the instrument cluster, whereas GM Super Cruise utilizes a light bar on the top of the steering wheel.
This post was created in collaboration with our sister publication, Ford Authority.